Patient & Caregiver Stories
Elizabeth’s husband, Jeff, had been suffering with heart issues for a few years. After speaking with the medical team, they decided together that he should get an LVAD.
Once they decided, Elizabeth considered her role as a caregiver. At 69, the former teacher hoped that she could effectively encourage him at every stage of the operation.
“Even pre-operation, I tried to help him mentally to get stronger, to eat right, and to try to keep exercising,” she said.
At first, the idea of her husband having an LVAD was hard to accept. She thought about how he would be dependent on batteries for the rest of his life. But she told herself, “You can do this. You can do this.”
Elizabeth’s family waited with her during her husband’s surgery. She knew she could use their support.
When her husband came home from the hospital, she found it difficult to care for him by herself.
“It was overwhelming at first,” she said. With no kids, Elizabeth longed for some help. But she was afraid to ask her neighbors and friends. “I’m the type of person, I guess, that I just like to do it myself,” she said. It got easier as she shared responsibilities with her husband.
She also learned to give herself breaks. Even though she knew how to change his bandages and batteries, “Sometimes I knew he wanted to do it himself,” she said, “so I just let him do that.”
She discovered that she could draw on the LVAD team for help whenever she needed anything. Having them on-call was an important source of comfort to her. Elizabeth said what helped her the most was developing a good relationship with her doctors and the LVAD team, which allowed her to feel more involved, informed, and supported.
“You just get used to it,” she said. “The changes in your lifestyle simply become a ‘new normal.’”